Africa Policy Outlook 2006

An interesting read from 9 March 2006.

In 2006, Africa will witness a new wave of U.S. soldiers landing on the continent for training and other missions, as Washington takes aim at reshaping Africa to better serve America’s security interests. The trend in the Bush Administration’s Africa policy is toward an even greater focus on the so-called War on Terrorism, with emphasis on intelligence gathering, securing "ungoverned spaces" on the vast continent, and pre-positioning soldiers and equipment to project force globally and to deter Al-Qaeda in Africa. But American involvement in actual peacemaking or peacekeeping missions in Africa is far less likely, even as genocide continues in Darfur, Sudan.

The same Africa policy is equally intended to secure access to West African oil, which the Bush Administration now views as a strategic national interest. Imports of African oil are projected to grow from their current 15% of the U.S. total to 25% by 2015. The U.S. already imports more oil from Africa than Saudi Arabia, and within a decade it could become a greater source of oil imports than the whole of the Persian Gulf.

This year, when it comes to U.S. relations with Africa, the pre-occupation of U.S. officials with oil and guns will stand in stark contrast to the expressed concern of the American people regarding the ongoing genocide in Darfur and global health challenges like HIV/AIDS and the bird flu. The Bush Administration’s policy also fails to address Africans’ own concerns with human development, still an urgent priority despite last year’s proclaimed Africa focus.

Link to article…

MTC Report – Socio-Economic Impact of Mobile Phones in the Arab World

Commercially produced report looking at the socio-economic impact of cellular technology in the Middle East and Maghreb.

Usage of mobile phones has dramatically increased in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region over the past five years with over 75 million subscribers now using the services offered by 38 mobile operators in 18 countries. With a 2005 penetration rate standing at nearly 25% – compared to 15% in 2003 – mobile phones have become a big driver for economic development and job creation, especially for a region where unemployment rates reach a staggering 15% on average. As an example, for every job created in the mobile sector in Egypt, up to eight other jobs are created in different sectors of the economy – a potential to contribute to one-quarter of all job creation efforts of the Egyptian government.

Link to article…

PRC FM Visits Africa to Discuss Exploitation of Resources

"States have no friends, only interests"… Chinese checkbook diplomacy in action by Jeune Afrique-L’Intelligent, 2 February 2006:

Chinese Foreign Minister LI Zhaoxing’s African tour from 11 to 19 January has once again brought to light the striking evidence. It was a tour skillfully prepared by respecting the continent’s geographical balances, without eever forgetting the Celestial Empire’s interests (Cape Verde, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Nigeria, and Libya).

"We are ready to work with African nations … to reinforce cooperation in various fields, namely that of energy exploration," said the head of the diplomacy. This has the merit of clarity.

Boosted by a two-digit growth rate for over a decade now, the Chinese economy is stricken by an unquenchable thirst for cotton, timber, cocoa, steel, aluminum phosphate, iron, manganese, and especially oil.

In Praia, Beijing tried to reinforce its ties with the axis of Portuguese-speaking countries led by Portugal, Brazil, and also Angola.

In return for $2 billion devoted to the financing of infrastructures in hydrocarbons, China has become the second purchaser of Angolan crude oil behind the United States.

The Chinese group SINOPEC has obtained a new exploration license, while trade relations between the two countries have more than doubled since 2003….

Senegalese cotton growers, given a rough time by US subsidies, may derive profits from the Chinese textiles. Meanwhile, low-cost shoes and household appliances and cheap toys are a big hit in the Senegalese capital.

"That competition is unfair," protested Mamadou Lamine Niang, the chairman of the Dakar Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture.

In Mali, there is also cotton, but above all, a huge potential in terms of infrastructure. For the time being, Bamako has to content itself with a grant of $3.6 million.

Li Zhaoxing then went to Monrovia to attend the swearing-in ceremony of new President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. After 14 years of war, Liberia has to reconstruct itself, thus offering many opportunities, namely in construction and public works.

"In that sector, the Europeans can no longer resist," acknowledged Anthony Bouthelier, chairman of the French Council of Investors in Africa, "insomuch as we are not on an equal footing," alluding to the job seekers coming straight from china, hidden in shacks behind the sites.

In Nigeria and Libya, Beijing is simply disrupting the deal. As the top-ranked oil producer in Africa, in early January Nigeria made the most important private transaction on the continent (see issue No. 2349) with the company China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), which invested $2.3 billion to obtain an oilfield in the Niger Delta….

The message was heard in Tripoli, which, for the time being, has dealt primarily with the Americans.

Africa now represents one fourth of Chinese oil supplies. All sectors included, the value of trade went up from $10 billion in 2000 to about $40 billion in 2005.

Beijing intends to raise that figure to $100 billion within five years.

Link to article…

Korea, Nigeria to Cooperate on Energy

More asians coming to the Nigerian table and offering money and cultural and education exchange (i.e. public diplomacy) to boot.

President Roh Moo-hyun and Nigerian President Olusegun ObasanjoThursday agreed to increase substantial economic cooperation between the two
countries, especially in the field of energy and resources.

The two leaders
also decided during their summit to closely cooperate in the
information-technology (IT) sector.

accompanying Roh on his visit to three African countries said South Korea will
provide Nigeria with $200,000 worth of equipment and supplies to help prevent
avian influenza.

Roh unveiled a package of aid programs in which South Korea
will triple its financial assistance to the continent over the next three

Meeting over lunch with business leaders from Nigeria and South Korea
at a hotel here, Roh said that Seoul will triple its Official Development
Assistance bound for Africa by to some $10 billion by 2008.

He added the
increased financial assistance would be used largely to support Africa’s human
resources development, and improve health.

In order to share its experience
of economic development, the government will host some 1,000 Africans in the
coming three years to share know-how acquired in the course of economic

"We will also try to devise innovative measures to secure
financial resources to help Africa," Roh told the businessmen, reminding them of
an airline tax proposed by French President Jacque Chirac to bankroll programs
to fight poverty and disease.

Chirac has recently urged the international
community to adopt an airline tax to raise financial resources to help Africa.
Speaking at a two-day meeting in Paris last month, he said France planned to
begin imposing the airline tax in July.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
officials traveling with Roh, said the government plans to launch a forum
between South Korea and Africa later this year.

Link to article…

Chinese Energy Giant to Buy Stake in Nigerian Oil Field – The New York Times

Chinese expansion in Nigeria:

Cnooc, the giant state-owned Chinese energy company, said Monday that it would pay nearly $2.3 billion in cash to acquire a large stake in a Nigerian oil and gas field, one of the biggest overseas acquisitions by a Chinese company.

With the deal, Cnooc would acquire almost half of an oil field in the Niger Delta, one of the world’s largest oil and gas basins. The field is believed to hold more than one billion barrels of oil and is operated by the French oil company Total, which also has a large interest in the project. Cnooc has also committed itself to spending $2.25 billion over the next few years to help develop the field.

Link to article…

Navy: The United States Navy is not patroling Somali Waters

Link: Navy Times – Officials refute reports of expansion in Somalia, Black Sea.

The Navy has no intent to build bases on the Black Sea in Turkey, nor has it been asked to patrol Somali waters for marauding pirates, according to official denials of recent news items.

Spokesmen for 6th Fleet/Naval Forces Europe in Naples, Italy, and 5th Fleet/Naval Forces Central Command in Manama, Bahrain, refuted news articles from mid-April claiming the Navy would be reaching further into previously uncharted waters, so to speak.

Confusing messages or accidental comments?

…U.S. ships patrol in international waters off Somalia, but not in Somali waters.

Cmdr. Jeff Breslau, public affairs officer for 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said no
one has asked the Navy to patrol Somali waters for pirates, as was
reported in several news outlets.

American Military Partnership Makes Big Hit in The Gambia

EUCOM is really expanding in Africa. US soldiers are becoming cultural links between Gambians and the United States.

The security partnership between the U.S. Defense Department and TheGambia has come in for praise, in part because of a recent visit to the
country by soldiers of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), who shared
valuable experiences with their Gambian counterparts.

headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, is responsible for military
partnerships with most sub-Saharan African nations.  It organized the
March 13-17 visit to The Gambia in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in
Banjul, The Gambia, and the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S.
Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.

According to the U.S. Embassy in
Banjul, the soldiers’ conversation centered on operations aimed at
helping Africans secure their countries against terrorism as well as
counter crimes like illegal fishing and piracy.

The Americans were well received and drew "enthusiastic reactions from the Gambian government and media," the embassy reported….

The event coincided with a successful donation project operated by
the Defense Department called the Humanitarian Assistance Program
(HAP).  In The Gambia, HAP spurred the donation of excess U.S. property
to nongovernmental organizations, including a vehicle, medical supplies
and school and office furniture.

Compared to Defense Department
partnerships with larger African nations, the overall U.S.-Gambian
military relationship is relatively modest — funded at between
$100,000 and $150,000 a year.  The centerpiece of that involvement is
the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which
brings foreign officers to the United States for professional training
at service schools.

In 2003, IMET spent more than $11 million to train more than 1,500 African troops from 40 countries in Africa.

This is how we win the "hearts and minds". Why is it being led by the Defense Department?

Security is "a regional problem and requires a regional solution," the
admiral said.  "These nations need to protect their natural resources
and provide for safety and security to their coastlines."  To that end,
he said, the meeting gave the United States "the opportunity to build
effective peer networking among the African professionals and
strengthen our emerging partnerships with those nations."

Security of the region is important not just to deny sanctuary but also to protect oil and other natural resources. Developing deep partnerships through cultural and public diplomacy is far cheaper than waging war and goes a lot further in the trust deparment.


The volume of military involvement in Africa is increasing while the responsibilities are divided between THREE combatant commands:

  • Pacific Command (PACOM) gets the island of Madagascar (east coast of Africa
    (excluding the waters north of 5° S and west of 68° E). (PACOM gets 50% of the earth’s surface.)
  • Central Command (CENTCOM) gets the Horn of Africa.
  • Europe (EUCOM) gets the rest.

Wouldn’t it make sense to consolidate this AOR under one roof and move beyond Huntington’s wonderment if Africa is it’s own civilization? It isn’t one civilization but it should be one Command.

Somali Government Agrees, or Not, to US Navy Help

From the State Department Briefing of April 18:

QUESTION:  Apparently, the Somali Government has given the U.S. Navy permission to patrol its waters for pirates.  I just wondered whether you had any details on this.  There seemed to be kind of conflicting reports coming out of the region.  There was also this story last November where a U.S. company, Bobcats — was it Bobcats?  Or Top Cat, sorry.  Top Cat Marine Security was given this big contract to fight
piracy.  I just wondered where the U.S. Navy fitted in with this and was the embassy involved in trying to negotiate a deal.

MR. MCCORMACK:  I’ll look into it for you, Sue.  Anything else on —

QUESTION:  Can I just — so was that — so you can’t confirm the fact that the U.S. has made a deal to —

MR. MCCORMACK:  With respect to piracy, our military forces are very active in that region around the Horn of Africa and the Department of Defense has talked many times about the operations, counterterrorism operations
that they’ve had as well as meeting whatever international obligations they may have with respect to preventing piracy.

Now, on the discrete question of has the United States been in contact with the Government of Somalia on this particular issue, I’m happy to look into it for you.  I don’t have the particular information for you on that.
I can speak in general about the fact that our military is very active in that region for a variety of different reasons.

But just to make that slightly more specific there, according to the copy that we have out of Nairobi, transitional Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has said that they secured a “milestone” agreement, which is a very specific agreement, to undertake these patrols there.  So we need a sort of confirmation or a yes or no —

I’m happy to look into that for you, Peter.  I don’t have the
information up here and it’s not an issue that I discussed with people before I came out.

Nigerian Saying: “The chicken that is searching for food in the rain must be very hungry”

"The chicken that is searching for food in the rain must be very hungry" is a Nigerian proverb the Chinese hope won’t become their fortune. China is not yet hungry but it is looking to get in front of the rain that is sure to come in the form of a Western rush. The Chinese footprint in Nigeria is expanding quicker than most would think or admit. While oil and other natural resources are essential to Western economies, there is more to Nigeria and the region. There are other business opportunities the West in general, except for French Alcatel’s lucrative partnership with China, are missing out on.

Continue reading “Nigerian Saying: “The chicken that is searching for food in the rain must be very hungry”

Africa in the QDR

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) published by the DefenseDepartment is generally taken as a (not ‘the’) roadmap for future
strategy and force structuring of United States Armed Forces. As such,
it is a good read. Frequently, the more interesting read is what
various groups "hear" in the document and what they highlight. Looking
at the Voice of America (VOA), it is noteworthy they highlighted a
small theme in the report: Africa. Within the 92 page report, Africa
does not get too much attention.

Continue reading “Africa in the QDR

Nigerian referees OK’d to take bribes

Briefly, information and communication technology (ICT) cannot work in a vacuum to reform Nigeria: Nigerian referees OK’d to take bribes

LAGOS, Nigeria – Soccer referees in Nigeria can take bribes from clubs but should not allow them to influence their decisions on the field, a football official said on Friday….Despite a high-profile campaign to stamp out graft in the impoverished
African country, Nigeria consistently ranks among the most corrupt
countries in the world — and soccer is no exception.

ICT may enable that democraticization of information, knowledge, and decision-making, but corruption openly permeating sport is like the termite droppings on the window sill: you always knew they were there but the volume of activity has risen to make their action blatently visible. No one questions that corruption is deep in Nigeria, but the public needs to understand that accepting such behavior gives ammunition and motivation to the rebels in the south-south and the fundamentalists in the North.

Lucent Talks Raise Issue of Security (Updated)

The way the Lucent (NYSE:LUnews) buyout by Alcatel (ALA) (NYSE: ALANews; Paris: CGEP.PANews) plays out will be telling. Without an Arab company involved, it will surely not raise to the level of "sophisticated" political discourse that we saw with the "Dubai Ports" deal. The reality is this deal should raise greater concerns (especially since the port deal was a red herring), which I doubt it will.

Continue reading “Lucent Talks Raise Issue of Security (Updated)

USN Public Diplomacy in West Africa

More public diplomacy brought to Africa by the military. From Stars & Stripes:

Sailors from the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land have been working to build better relationships in Gabon one wrench turn at a time.

Dozens of sailors from the ship’s 1,400-member crew worked with the Gabonese navy and made repairs on two of its ships during a visit to the West African country’s Port Gentil.

The visit, which ended Friday, was the second stop on the Land’s current Gulf of Guinea deployment. The deployment is the ship’s second to the region in two years.

“These are not liberty port calls,” said Capt. Michael D. Budney, commander of the ship based in La Maddalena, Italy. “These are working ports.”

The ship is in the region as part of the U.S. European Command’s bid to strengthen everything from security in the area to relationships between the U.S. and nations around the Gulf of Guinea, which has large oil reserves.

But Land’s sailors have been more focused on the basics, strengthening those relationships at the lowest level, between sailors and their host-nation counterparts.

This is a great opportunity for interaction. How will we carry the goodwill forward? Will the locals treasure toys of US military ships or aircraft like the C-130 toys in Pakistan? We need to consider building upon these foundations for long-lasting relationships. The Pentagon is not the place to establish and maintain civilian relationships. We have the finest military in the world but do we want our global interface to be uniforms and weapons of war or something else? We could also throw in here the ever expanding stories (I still need to get to Bremer’s book) on how Rumsfeld himself shorted the civil affairs, er, reconstruction effort in Iraq.

Other Africas: Images of Nigerian Modernity

Oppressor While doing research on Nigeria, I came across this excellent website on an exhibit that ran Jan – April 2002 at Southern Illinois University.

The exhibit’s statement: "Critical observers have long noted that museum collections from Africa are composed largely of the spoils of colonial pillage. Thus the Africa we normally encounter in museums–the Africa of masks and ritual objects displayed on walls and in glass cases–is a fetishized Africa of colonial nostalgia. The objective of this exhibit is to offer images of Other Africas, perspectives that lead us away from the desolate and romanticized Africa of the Western imagination toward those places where African modernities are emerging."

At right is a poster titled The Oppressor:

This popular calendar entitled "The Oppressor," is explicit commentary on wealth and inequality in Nigeria. Here, a very large man dressed in European style clothing (which is indicative of his wealth and status) rests his feet on the very backs of Nigeria’s poor and unfortunate. Although they carry his large platter of food, he offers them nothing even as they are starving. One of the biggest criticisms that Nigerians have of the elite is their failure to share this wealth with others, even by investing in Nigerian businesses. Thus, they are often depicted as greedy and selfish.

This stunning exhibit moves you beyond thinking of Africa through a colonial frame of poached masks and thatched roofs, themes echoed by the statements of the curators. More than worth the click through time.

Media Raid in Kenya Sparks Cyber Outcry

The response to Kenyan governmental thuggery is gaining international traction. Mentalacrobatics is tracking cyberspace. This unfortunate exercise is further evidence in the power of ICT in enabling people to stand-up for their rights as human beings. The UNCHR is meaningless (some might put the period right here… often I’m inclined to also…) without the knowledge rights are being suppressed. Interconnectivity doesn’t just raise boats, it eventually enables additional pressure points to inhibit such actions as was carried out. Read Mentalacrobatics for more on this.

The raid stirred Kenyans to raise their voices in protest in the streets of Nairobi. The same reaction was seen from Kenyans online as Kenyan bloggers decided to speak out.

Rattle a snake, get bit by a snake – Kenyan Censorship

KbcnewspapersAccording to the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation, the Kenyan government raided the offices of the newspaper the Standard. The government alleged some of the newspaper’s journalists were paid to run "fabricated" stories with the "intention to inciting ethnic hate and animosity leading to a breach of peace."

The BBC has more information, including a statement by Internal Security Minister John Michuki: "If you rattle a snake, you must be prepared to be bitten by it."
It seems likely the corruption was not of the journalists but of the government itself, according to the BBC. The claim by Information Minister Mutahi Kagwe of remaining "committed to the idel of press freedom and [the] promotion of responsible journalism" rings false by their actions.

Actions often speak far louder than words.

What type of development is possible under such a regime? The burning of newspapers just doesn’t portend good things in information sharing to raise all boats.

For more details see Kathryn Cramer here, Xeni here, and especially MentalAcrobatics here.

MentalAcrobatics has CCTV footage of the raid.

US Military practicing effective public diplomacy in Africa

The distinction that the military does not conduct public diplomacy — it practices public affairs — is disappearing by the day. A four country tour by Admiral Harry Ulrich,commander of US naval forces in Southern Europe and Africa, was more military-led diplomacy. Will there be follow up w/ civilian resources? State Department teams of public and cultural diplomats?

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